Turnout low for DNR’s meetings

The blizzard-like weather conditions this past Tuesday and Wednesday was not fit for “man or beast.” Nonetheless, I went to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Regulations meeting on Tuesday evening.

The total number of sportsmen and women in attendance who were not DNR employees was 22. The inclement weather had to be the reason for the low turnout.

In 2017, the DNR is going to make some changes, and I am in full agreement with just about all of them. The deer hunting opportunities for 2017 throughout the state should be close to those of 2016, with the exception of the antlerless season bag limit in certain counties.

This fall, the DNR plans to open 23 counties and parts of two counties to unlimited antlerless deer hunting on private land with a bag limit of three. In these 23 counties and part of two counties, archery and crossbow hunters will be required to take an antlerless deer prior to harvesting a second antlered deer during the archery season.

This same regulation also applies to the buck firearms season. Deer gun hunters will be required to take an antlerless deer prior to harvesting a second antlered deer in these 23 counties and parts of two others. Some of the counties on this list include Gilmer, Hampshire, Hardy, Harrison, Lewis, Marion and Upshur.

Antlerless deer hunting will be unlimited in 12 counties and part of two others, with a bag limit of three. However, in these counties, the special antlerless harvest requirement will not apply. Among these counties are Barbour, Braxton, Grant, Monongalia and the Eastern portion of Pendleton. Randolph, Tucker, and Webster will have unlimited antlerless deer hunting with a bag limit of one.

Nicholas, Pocahontas and the western portion of Pendleton will have limited antlerless deer hunting. To be able to hunt antlerless deer in these three counties, the hunter must apply for a permit in advance and be selected by the DNR computer.

Like last year, certain areas or Wildlife Management Areas of the National Forest will be closed to antlerless deer hunting. Among these are Beaver Dam WMA in Randolph County, Cheat WMA in Randolph County, Otter Creek WMA in Randolph and Tucker counties, and Tea Creek WMA in Pocahontas, Randolph and Webster counties.

The DNR will hand out 50 antlerless hunting permits for Kumbrabow State Forest, 50 for Little Canaan WMA in Tucker County and 50 for Seneca State Forest in Pocahontas County.

Hunters must apply in advance for the permit and be computer selected.

I have always felt like the DNR game biologists know what they are doing when it comes to managing the deer herd in this state. All that one has to do is simply look at the deer harvest figures for the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and compare them for each year in the 21st Century. “The proof is in the pudding” when it comes to the deer herd in West Virginia.

I would like for the DNR to make Kumbrabow State Forest in Randolph County and Kanawha State Forest in Kanawha County into older-aged deer management areas. I made this recommendation at the regulations meeting on Tuesday.

I also recommended that the DNR continue having year-round trout fishing and to return the annual regulations meetings to the old captive-audience or classroom-type format.

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As of Thursday, Senate Bill 345, that would permit Sunday hunting statewide on private land, was still in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee awaiting consideration.

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